by Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Over the last few years, American news reports have chronicled the rapid decline of the former Soviet Union. Originally elated by the prospects of glasnost, the media's attitude soon turned to concern for the welfare of the people as inflation soared and commodities became scarce. After the aborted coup in 1991, the Soviet Union broke up into several nations, freeing millions of people from Russian rule.
Boris Yeltsin, Russia's president, took on the task of continuing reforms and leading his nation back to prosperity and influence. His record has been tainted by protests, high prices, long lines, political infighting and another coup attempt. Russia seems on its last legs.
But is it?
Under the cover of other international issues, the lumbering bear of Eurasia is making its presence felt on the world scene. Not content with watching events from afar, Russia is reasserting some of its traditional views and strengthening old alliances. Never underestimate the strength and determination of a hungry bear!
The halls of foreign ministries whisper with the rumor that Russia and Germany negotiated a secret pact in 1990 that delineates spheres of influence for the two European powers (Intelligence Digest, December 10-31, 1993, p. 2). In this treaty Germany granted Russia economic assistance while agreeing not to interfere with Russia's meddling in Ukraine and the Baltic States. In return Russia conceded eastern Europe to Germany, including influence over Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
Top Russian officials have also recently held secret talks with key officials of the South African Communist Party and African National Congress, now allied. Together, Russia and South Africa possess over 90% of the world's strategic minerals, making it possible for them to establish a very powerful cartel. Some have suggested that through this means, Russia could catch up economically (Intelligence Digest, December 3, 1993, p. 1).
Within the past month, Russia has sent a forceful message to the West that it is back. By weilding its influence over traditional ally Serbia, it has given notice that NATO and the UN will have to consider Russia's wishes when international issues are decided. As the broker of the latest cessation of fighting around Sarajevo, Russian prestige all over the world skyrocketed (The Economist, February 19, 1994, p. 57).
Not to be forgotten is the latest round of parliamentary elections in which ultra-nationalist politicians made remarkable strides. More important than their taking seats in the parliament is that their election reveals the concerns and attitudes of the common Russian citizen. Among other planks in its platform, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, under the now-infamous Vladimir Zhirinovsky, supports a "unified powerful army," an all-powerful president, "peaceful cooperation and allied relations in Europe especially with Germany," and "friendly relations" with China and India. They consider the Middle East to come under their sphere of influence (Intelligence Digest, January 14, 1994, pp. 1-2). All this is beyond their calls for expulsion or oppression of non-Russians and their imperialist rhetoric.
Biding Their Time
If the Russians are indeed the people of "Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal" (Ezekiel 38:2), we can expect them to play the international game of politics and power much as they are doing today. These peoples, allied with other Asians, form their own power bloc and bide their time until Israel is ripe for the picking (verses 8-16). They will soon know that Israel is not as defenseless as it seems (Ezekiel 38:18—39:16).
Keep an eye on the Russian bear.